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Thoughts on Thoughts

I wonder if everything we do can be broken down to choices between fear and gain. Not necessarily good and evil or even some sort of self-centered interest since decisions based on fear or gain may be counter to the persons actual will or desire or even sense of safety.

Was thinking about it when reading Socrates "Ring of Gyges" and his talks of justice, and I wondered what really sits at the bottom of why we do anything at all.

This sounds reductionist, but it's not because we aren't the reduction in the same way that a human being can't be described by the elemental components that make up a human being. Even if our entire system of autonomy is based on a sort of biological logic system of fears and gains (like the digital ones and zeroes), we aren't simply ones and zeroes but the culmination of a whole complex array of evolution.

Still...it's not like the foundation plays no role. The foundation remains vastly important regardless of the complexity of the overall structure that's built on top and we've all heard the term "carrot and stick". One might say our entire society is a great stack of carrots and sticks. Who we talk and walk with and who we don't is based on fear or gain. And despite having an ever growing lexicon of complicated and abstract theories of mental processes and testimonies of why this or why that is or isn't, maybe this complexity can be addressed by examining the foundations of autonomous action itself. Why do we do anything at all? That answer might define the actual meaning of autonomy or "life" and define why we are...while failing to define who we are.

This interested me further since I remember N. Tesla (yes, the legendary...) reported to have chastised mathematicians of the time saying that, in short, modern science was becoming increasingly divorced from actual, physical science. That mathematical abstractions were taking the place of the fundamental objectivity required in the process of verification through actual, demonstrable experimentation. He worried that soon, instead of building upon scientific truths, we would begin to lean on theories and deviate from reality.

In a way, I think that has happened a bit with the decision making process. It's evolved into an extraordinary system. A system of thought that is capable not only of interpreting reality but conjuring possibilities. But at some point we come to believe as much in our mental conjuring rather than our direct experiences with reality and so our thoughts on things become increasing based on abstract ideas. We have no definitive example of actual justice, just a bunch of interpretations, and yet peoples lives are weighed on these scales. Love is another one of those mentally abstract ideas that has people tossing about or a long period of their lives because instead of understanding that, perhaps, there is a misunderstanding...we opt towards the abstract rather than concrete. Abstract thinking borne from an evolved and undisciplined(?) deviation from a basic understanding of how we think of things and why we do the things we do.

Well, that's all theory anyway. There's no moral convictions here, but I think that we are all trying to develop ourselves into a sense of what we want to be and decisions are the most important aspect of that. The crossroads. It's a point we come to in life and a point repeatedly introduced in any story. Over and over we are brought up to the crossroads. What we choose is important, but I also believe why we choose is just as important. Because every act is a decision. And every decision is the element of who we really are. But that doesn't mean we can't be something different...but even that requires decisions.

Tuesday, hello. Release Friday, I demand it.

Comments

Certainly you could distill it down to survival versus non-survival, could you not?

But then people do things, make sacrifices, that do not fit neatly in that dichotomy.

People are afraid of things they shouldn't be afraid of, and think of the wrong things as gains.

One man's trash is another man's treasure.

And all of this within the confines of operating through space and time. I don't think you're wrong that fear and gain rest at the bedrock of the way we're structured, but I don't think they're the only two things.

---

There are many different ideas about Love, I have come to realize. Socrates seems to have quite a bit to say on the subject. I will probably go back and re-read those passages when I finish Xenophon's "Conversations of Socrates".

There are different kinds of Love, and what works for one kind may not work for another.

These matters should not be made more complex than they need to be, but simultaneously it's a crime to call them simple. There are simple things *about* Love, but there are simple aspects of anything complex.

---

When you said we have no definitive example of justice, that caught my attention and made me want to write a counter-response to it, but I don't think you went in-depth enough for me to understand exactly what you meant, so I'll leave it at that for now.
 
Smith;bt11627 said:
Certainly you could distill it down to survival versus non-survival, could you not?

But then people do things, make sacrifices, that do not fit neatly in that dichotomy.

People are afraid of things they shouldn't be afraid of, and think of the wrong things as gains.

One man's trash is another man's treasure.

And all of this within the confines of operating through space and time. I don't think you're wrong that fear and gain rest at the bedrock of the way we're structured, but I don't think they're the only two things.

I know I sound convinced in my posts, but while I don't think there are more than three elements to it all, I'm not convinced I've found what there were. It's kinda like how Socrates used the method of acting dumb to stimulate learning in others. Only in this case I am dumb and just writing my thoughts to stimulate conversation. A starting point.

There are many different ideas about Love, I have come to realize. Socrates seems to have quite a bit to say on the subject. I will probably go back and re-read those passages when I finish Xenophon's "Conversations of Socrates".

There are different kinds of Love, and what works for one kind may not work for another.

These matters should not be made more complex than they need to be, but simultaneously it's a crime to call them simple. There are simple things *about* Love, but there are simple aspects of anything complex.

I have a feeling that love, also, is much more simpler than it seems. It's our perceptions of it that's complex. In the same thing we make every other simple thing complex because our perceptions are tied to fears, interests, etc. We pervert it intentionally or reflexively. You know how there is a truth in a relationship and that telling that truth would clear up a lot of things or get rid of some of the awkwardness, but you fear telling that truth because of the consequences so you kinda complicate things by having to lie or dodge it? Or maybe how the intentions of a written law in the past were quite clear, but because some party wants to do something, they seek reinterpretations of it, diving into the syntax and function of every word and meaning to stretch it to their particular bent? That. Simple things are usually simple. We make them more complicated.

When you said we have no definitive example of justice, that caught my attention and made me want to write a counter-response to it, but I don't think you went in-depth enough for me to understand exactly what you meant, so I'll leave it at that for now.

Yes. Think of the inch. It seems defined, but it's not because there's no exact definition of an inch. Because there's no exact definition of any measure of any point in space. It's not only a conjured system meant to measure actual reality, it's only an approximation of it. We agree to call a particular stretch of space an inch, and it works well enough to build with, but when you get down to the microscopic verification of it (say, trying to apply these functions towards manipulating things at their very basic levels) it doesn't exist. In a way, that might be why we can't bridge macro and microphysics. We've been using an understanding that works to a certain degree, but was never really...accurate. < opinions here

I think of justice in the same way. Justice is not defined. It's very arbitrary. Justice is tied to our opinions of morals and these change with time and situation. At one point murder is okay. At another point it's not. While it seems we are progressing to a refined interpretation of justice, we aren't. Only, perhaps, a more unified opinion of an abstract, virtually non-existent concept. Basically, we conjure nothing, call it something, and attempt to define it. But since it is nothing the only basis of it is what we think of it and that is always subject to change with time and situation. It's an opinion based on opinions. At least in my view of it...
 
Yes, your posts have a tendency of being very thought-provoking. :)

kaminoshiyo;bt11631 said:
I have a feeling that love, also, is much more simpler than it seems. It's our perceptions of it that's complex. In the same thing we make every other simple thing complex because our perceptions are tied to fears, interests, etc. We pervert it intentionally or reflexively. You know how there is a truth in a relationship and that telling that truth would clear up a lot of things or get rid of some of the awkwardness, but you fear telling that truth because of the consequences so you kinda complicate things by having to lie or dodge it? Or maybe how the intentions of a written law in the past were quite clear, but because some party wants to do something, they seek reinterpretations of it, diving into the syntax and function of every word and meaning to stretch it to their particular bent? That. Simple things are usually simple. We make them more complicated.

Telling the truth is the best thing to do in any relationship.

I can do you one more. Love is just chemicals. But the problem with simple explanations is that they're not widely applicable, and hardly of any use to us as models. It doesn't solve the problems we need to solve. Anything can be simplified by looking at it from a low-resolution level of analysis, but what happens at higher resolutions of analysis are just as real and important.

At a low resolution of analysis, a horse and a car are the same because they can perform the same functions.

Yes. Think of the inch. It seems defined, but it's not because there's no exact definition of an inch. Because there's no exact definition of any measure of any point in space. It's not only a conjured system meant to measure actual reality, it's only an approximation of it. We agree to call a particular stretch of space an inch, and it works well enough to build with, but when you get down to the microscopic verification of it (say, trying to apply these functions towards manipulating things at their very basic levels) it doesn't exist. In a way, that might be why we can't bridge macro and microphysics. We've been using an understanding that works to a certain degree, but was never really...accurate. < opinions here

The inch works for most of our purposes of working with the restrictions of our eyes. If you need measurement that's more precise than the inch, you don't use the inch. But if you need measurement that's more precise than what we can perceive with the naked eye, obviously any measurement systems designed for the naked eye will not work.

Well, that depends on what you mean by accurate.

I think of justice in the same way. Justice is not defined. It's very arbitrary. Justice is tied to our opinions of morals and these change with time and situation. At one point murder is okay. At another point it's not. While it seems we are progressing to a refined interpretation of justice, we aren't. Only, perhaps, a more unified opinion of an abstract, virtually non-existent concept. Basically, we conjure nothing, call it something, and attempt to define it. But since it is nothing the only basis of it is what we think of it and that is always subject to change with time and situation. It's an opinion based on opinions. At least in my view of it...

Here is where you and I possibly differ. I don't believe that the justice of Sharia is as "legitimate" for lack of a better word as our justice system. I don't believe that the way freedom of speech is handled in the UK and Canada is better how it is handled here. I'm not a moral relativist.

Abstractions can be more real than the things they represent. It appears to me that abstractions you pull from 100 different relationships in a given generation are more real than the non-fiction account of one relationship. And abstractions pulled from comparing and contrasting 2000 relationships over the course of 10 generations are more real than the 100 over a single generation.

The number 1 might be more real as it can represent anything.
 

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